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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Athletic and strong willed, Princess Emmajin's determined to do what no woman has done before: become a warrior in the army of her grandfather, the Great Khan Khubilai. In the Mongol world the only way to achieve respect is to show bravery and win glory on the battlefield. The last thing she wants is the distraction of the foreigner Marco Polo, who challenges her beliefs in the gardens of Xanadu. Marco has no skills in the "manly arts" of the Mongols: horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Still, he charms the Khan with his wit and story-telling. Emmajin sees a different Marco as they travel across 13th-century China, hunting 'dragons' and fighting elephant-back warriors. Now she faces a different battle as she struggles with her attraction towards Marco and her incredible goal of winning fame as a soldier.…

Daughter of Xanadu

by Dori Jones Yang

Overall Book Review:

Be transported back in time to the height of the Mongolian Empire, and a time where women are seen and not heard. This fictional story follows the lives of the imperial family of Khan at the time Marco Polo made his great trek to Asia. It is filled with historical accounts of the rule of Ghengis Khan and his posterity, mixed with a few fictional characters and events. Reminiscent of the legend of Mulan, Emmajin shares many of these characteristics so unlike the other young women of her time. Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang is well written. The language is believable, and the descriptions of customs, foods, and places during that time period are vivid and engaging. Although the book was slow-going toward the beginning, it ended with a nice mix of historical accounts woven in adventure. This book is definitely meatier than the average teen novel, but any reader willing to give it a chance will find it worth their time to finish it.  The author includes a map and lineage chart to assist the understanding of the rulers and their place in the story.  She also includes the correct spelling of the historical figures, but also gives the English version of the names.  History is brought alive in this novel, and I enjoyed getting a glimpse of Chinese and Mongolian history mixed with a bit of adventure.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Random House Children’s Books

Content Analysis:

Daughter of Xanadu is not squeaky clean, but mostly clean.  The main character’s attractions and desires are described.  There is one instance where she is thinking “bedroom” thoughts, that I thought was unnecessary and mildly offensive. 

Overall, the violence is war related and not overly gruesome (nothing too descriptive), and the love story is mild. 

Mature Subject Matter:


Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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Please note that reviews dated prior to February 1, 2012 came from and had a more informal content review process. Those reviews have been added to our database because they have a lot of great content information, but their format will look different and there may be wider variation in those reviews.